Old Town is undoubtedly an international tourism gem, which in the summer is in its glory. But there are also many interesting things outside of the Old Town for all ages. Here are just tips to make sure that you get the most out of your time in Tallinn.
1. Estonian Open Air Museum
Rocca al Mare open-air museum has buildings and houses from all over Estonia. The cosy tavern and the recently opened “village shop” offer a bite to eat, but you can also bring your own food to enjoy at one of the many picnic areas available. The buildings are mainly from the 19th century, making the log houses and thatched roofs, a sight not to be missed.
2. The Tallinn Zoo
At the zoo in the summer, children can pat the cute animals. There are hundreds of species of animals, everything from mammals to fish to birds.
The Zoo is located in the Rocca al Mare district, and you should plan to be there for several hours, especially if you want to see all of the animals. The bus stops at the nearby shopping centre (one of the largest in Estonia). Visiting the zoo and the open-air museum makes for a good day trip.
3. Stroomi Beach
Stroomi beach is a great beach for swimming and is located in north Tallinn. Amenities are good and there are many things for children as well. Refreshments and light meals are available at the cafés; enjoy ice cream from the kiosk. Many activities are also offered.
4. Pikakari Beach
This is Tallinn's most unknown beach because the bus does not quite get you there. But it’s worth a short walk from the bus stop, especially if you want to spend a peaceful day on the beach. There is parking for cars, but the easiest access is by bicycle, which is just a short ride from town.
5. The Seaplane Harbour
A new tourist spot for the whole family. The Seaplane Harbour or Lennusadam (as it is called in Estonian) is more than just a maritime museum. The largest exhibits are the ships and a submarine. Many of the exhibits are interactive so that for example, visitors can try navigating a ship in the dark Tallinn harbour. There is plenty to see and do for people of all ages and the building itself is worth seeing.
6. Nõmme Adventure Park
The Nõmme park trails are not for everyone, especially if you happen to have a fear of heights. If you want to play outdoors and challenge yourself, then Nõmme Adventure Park is the place to go. Mainly built between the trees, there are 6 adventure trails with a total length of 700 m, and a variety of 70 "obstacles.” A couple of hours on the track go quickly. Open daily 10 – 22 in summer, entrance fees are between 4 and 16.50€.
7. Miia-Milla-Manda Children's Centre
The museum’s official name is Miia-Milla-Manda and is designed as a young children's activity centre. There is plenty to do for 3 to 10 year olds. Miia-Milla-Manda is located in the Kadriorg park pavilion that was built in 1930.
8. Kadrioru Park
The Kadriorg Palace and park area was built for the wife of Peter the Great. The palace houses Estonia's Foreign Art Museum. In summer this place is like an oasis in the middle of the city. One can have a picnic on the edge of the water, watch the swans and spend more time there beyond just going for a walk.
9. Kumu Art Museum
The Art Museum of Estonia features Estonian art that attracts thousands of tourists every year, and the building itself is worth coming to see. At Kumu there is a good restaurant and its beautiful setting in Kadriorg makes it an excellent summer destination.
10. Estonian History Museum
Maarjamäe Palace is part of the Estonian History Museum. Its main exhibition focuses on 20th century events. In the Great Hall, Soviet-era paintings take one's thoughts to "buried" monuments behind the house.
11. Pirita Convent Ruins
Among Tallinn's most notable destinations are no doubt the ruins of the Pirita convent. There are four upright walls, between which a classical music festival Brigitta is held in August. Although there is not much to see but ruins, it’s just a quick walk to the beach afterwards.
12. Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Garden is a great place for picnics and there is plenty of space for everyone. In the large botanical gardens enjoy food among the trees or in the open areas. The greenhouse is open to visitors year-round. Enjoy a coffee or ice cream under a canopy of the trees in case of rain.
13. TV Tower
It's pretty tall, need we say more? The tower was opened to the public in the spring and continues to draw a lot of visitors. If you wish to go and eat at the restaurant with a magnificent view, you should book early. There is an informative exhibition describing the tower's history. The view from the viewing platform (at the 170m height) is certainly worth a trip to the top.
14. Pirita Beach
A very small number of cities have such a big sandy beach so close by. Pirita beach is Tallinn's natural phenomenon. If you are a beach person then you should go to Pirita. Locals frequent the beach and there are many cafés to try as well.
15. Viimsi Open Air Museum and the Museum of Coastal Folk
From Viimsi, admire the expansive view of the silhouettes of the hundreds of years old towers that form the Tallinn skyline. Here, the appeal of an open-air museum is that it is a 19th century homestead with all its original buildings. Even more interesting Air Museum. Vivid colours of the exotic birds at the Tallinn Zoo. are the exhibits at the Coastal Folk museum 500 meters away that explore the Coastal people’s life and history. Look at boats, including a large trawler. The fishing and sealing industry as well as the famous Kirov collective farm has its place in the exhibition. A 3€ ticket includes admission to both museums.
In Viimsi visit the Estonian War Museum situated in a 15th century manor.
TEXT JUKKA ARPONEN, PHOTOS ANDREI CHERTKOV